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Texas schools deploy threat assessment program

To improve student and staff safety on school campuses, the Texas School Safety Center developed a formal program that guides districts in conducting threat assessments. 

In 2019, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 11, requiring public schools to conduct behavioral threat assessments and collect relevant data on their efficacy. In tandem with SB11, the Texas Education Agency and the TxSSC provided policies and procedures to streamline the process and design a proactive approach to keeping schools safe. 

Part of the requirements for SB11 is implementing at least one threat assessment team for the entire district. The members attend training with the Texas School Safety Center and then prepare their strategy for managing a situation on campus. Mission CISD’s Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Team has 13 district employees responsible for managing different aspects of a crisis within MCISD. The 13 members are: 

  • Superintendent Dr. Carol G. Perez
  • Deputy Superintendent for Support Services Lorena Garcia
  • Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Dr. Sharon Roberts
  • Assistant Superintendent for Operations Ricardo Rivera
  • Assistant Superintendent for Finance Joel Garcia
  • Executive Director PK-12 Mission High School Vertical Team Edilberto Flores
  • Executive Director PK-12 MHS Vertical Team Cynthia Wilson
  • Executive Director for Special Education Frances Cruz
  • Executive Director for Special Programs and School Improvement Kim Risica
  • Director for Safety & Security Martin Castañeda
  • Director for Health Services Yesenia Treviño
  • Director for Student Services/Guidance & Counseling Jesse Treviño
  • Director of Public Relations and Marketing Craig Verley

Lorena Garcia explained how the team works when an emergency arises. 

“You have the team, which is composed of a small group of individuals, but then each one of those people on the team is responsible for a specific branch,” she explained. “For example, if we have to deploy buses because we may have to transport people like we did when we had a bomb threat. We transported the entire campus from an elementary to a junior high while we waited for the parents to come pick them up.” 

The media team gets the message out to the public, the medical professionals monitor mental and physical health, the finance department makes sure the district has the appropriate supplies depending on the event, and each branch has its role. 

“They all have a team of people under them that they’re responsible to prepare for an emergency,” Garcia said. “Of course, we have our emergency operations plan, which is a very intensive manual. We follow the Texas School Safety Center guide on developing that, that plan. And every school district has to have one. And it outlines a lot of the guidelines depending on the type of emergency situation.” 

The team members could not go into detail about their emergency operations plan due to safety matters. But they have processes for crises on both a large scale and a more individualized scenario. Garcia said the team also receives reports on individual students, not just campus or district-wide emergencies. Depending on the situation, the threat assessment team determines the appropriate type of support. 

“That’s what the purpose of having a multi multidisciplinary team on board is — everyone has different access to different resources throughout the district,” Martin Castañeda said. “And that way whatever resources are identified as being needed, those resources are called in.” 

The state requires the Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Team to meet with the district safety committee three times a year. The committee consists of the school board, community members and first responders. Before the meetings occur, the district posts the time and date to the MCISD website alongside the monthly board of trustees meetings. Mission CISD also has separate parent and student advisory groups for those who want to be more involved in the district.

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